This is the script for the homily from St. Anthony Parish in Allston. The actual homily follows the script somewhat but not perfectly. To hear what was delivered click on “Hear this homily from our podcast below the first paragraph.
Today’s second reading comes from one of the most mysterious books of the Bible. What makes it worse is that it has been hijacked by those who ascribe properties to it that just are not there. Some preachers take the daily news and show its connection to the Book of Revelation which is dubious as best. However, it is important for people to know how much fear is connected to this book and unnecessarily. Especially if you work for Google. In 2013, a Google property patented a device that has yet to be marketed and may never will that is a sticker that looks like a UPC seal that will be able to record your voice directly into your phone and also determine whether or not you will are lying. If that does not look like something right out of the Book of Revelation, I don’t know what is?
However, the real message of the Book of Revelation goes deeper than what many interpret it to mean; similarly the creation account in the book of Genesis.
Interestingly enough, one aspect of this teaching is something that although is Catholic teaching, I learned it from the evangelicals. Jesus because he is fully human, fully divine because he sacrificed himself for us, is the bridge between us and God. He connects our humanity to the Father’s divinity. Without him, there is no bridge and the chasm between us would be unsurmountable.
This is where our salvation lies through this first step.
As you know it is Jesus that makes our connection to the Father and we make the connection to Jesus. This is the answer to the question: “Why is it only Jesus and no one else. No other deity offers this bridge.”
However, there is something else we must look at here and this is something that many Catholics have a hard time with and more so American Catholics and even more so Traditionalist Catholics.
Catholicism is a mystical religion.
What does that mean?
Well, I have explained to you in the past it is not a system of morality. We have a command to love God and neighbor and when we do that our behavior changes from the inside out. If we have chosen to love God then our behavior will show it, if we have chosen to follow rules without loving God our behavior will show that as well.
So, Catholicism begins with the dialog of prayer. One of my struggles with the way many of the Bishops represent Catholicism is by citing the rules first. Other bishops successfully explain that we cite the dialog of prayer first.
If you think of it, to pray for something is a dialog. The answer to your prayer is a part of that dialog. If you go further you realize that the dialog of prayer is so central to what we believe that when we forget that we get lost. If you want to know what is wrong with the Church today maybe we lost the dialog of prayer. I added this is especially true in the United States where we have such terrible struggles in this Church. The key here might be the loss of the dialog of prayer. I remember a priest told me that in the 50s and 60 the only persons writing on prayer were Thomas Merton and Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whether that is true, I don’t know.
What is happening in this passage? Jesus has appeared and is dictating to John of Patmos what must be said to the Churches.
He understands what is going on in these Christian communities and he is giving a response. Five are negative by the way and two are positive.
We are seeing an example of what is known as Christian prophecy which is speaking for God. It is not predicting the future. In this case, it is a communication from Jesus to the Churches.
If you read the saints, you will see over and over again this concept of the mysticism of Catholicism. What this simply means is a form of communication between Jesus and His people today.
Let me give you an example, Fr Lawrence Jenco and Terry Anderson were kidnapped and held captive together in the Middle East during the first H.W. Bush administration. They were freed after several years of captivity but to this day no one in the West any way knows where they were held captive.
During that captivity Fr. Jenco as a priest could consecrate the host from the bread they were given in sandwiches in their small compartment even while in chains and blindfolded. This meant they could have Jesus physically present in the consecrated bread. This gave them strength to continue. You realize that one of the ways captors can demoralize their captives is to tell them no one knows you are here. However, they could draw strength from the Lord who was present to them.
This is an example of the mysticism of Catholicism and the form of dialog that is central to our faith.
It is knowing that Christ is present and acting on that presence in every part of our lives.
If you read the Book of Revelation which I would not suggest per se. It is loaded with symbolism and if you do not understand the symbolism you too will believe that the end times are here. They may be true but maybe not. However, if you read it more as a clash between those forces who embrace the dialog with Christ and those forces that outright reject it, you will have a deeper understanding of what it is all about.
This was written at a time when the Romans were severely persecuting the Christians and it was giving the young Christians strength. The strength was in knowing Christ was with them and changing their lives accordingly.
If you read it wrong, you too will believe there is a microchip in the vaccines that the government is using to control your minds which is not only not true it is not even possible in our current technology.